It’s Autism Awareness Month … what does that mean?

From Bryn Hogan, Executive Director of the Autism Treatment Center of America

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word ‘awareness’ in part as ‘having or showing realization, or knowledge’.  That sounds good.  How wonderful it would be to have more and more people who have some realization or knowledge of Autism.  

Can we go even further?

Again and again, when I am teaching parents in our Son-Rise Program® Sequence, they share the same thing … whether they are from California, or China, The Middle East, or Argentina:

“No one really understands what it’s like”  “People don’t see why the little things are so important to us” “We feel so alone because no one really ‘gets it’”.

They are talking about all the people they know in their lives who do not have a child with Autism … and they are actually correct.  Most people who do not have a child with Autism do not really understand the experience that parents are having. 

We can change this! 

Not only by raising ‘awareness’ but by growing and enhancing the ability of those around us to understand.   Merriam-Webster defines ‘understanding’ in part as:  ‘a mental grasp; a friendly or harmonious relationship.  We can create this in our lives in the simplest way … by taking off our own masks and being ‘real’ ’.   

When someone asks you, “How was your weekend?” Your typical response may be, “Good!  How was yours?” What if you shared the ‘real’ answer instead?  What if you pick someone in your life that you would like to better comprehend your experiences and you said, “Actually, I couldn’t stop crying this morning in the shower because I’m feeling overwhelmed.”  If you shared that answer, the person you are talking to would have a chance to ‘get it’.  How can they understand if we don’t tell them what is reallyhappening in our lives?

When someone tells you, “My daughter just learned to ride a bike”, your typical response may be, “That’s wonderful!” and oftentimes  parents don’t share their excitement over their own child’s accomplishment because most people ‘wouldn’t understand’.  True, but they will never understand as long as we keep wearing our masks and hiding.  What if you picked another person in your life and you responded with the ‘real’ response which might be; “Two days ago my seven-year-old daughter took me to the refrigerator and when I opened it she pointed to the juice! This was so amazing because we have been working on pointing with her for three months and this is the first time I saw her actually do it!”  
 If you show those around you what your experience really is – then you open the door to the possibility of understanding!  You can create community, connection and ‘friendly and harmonious relationships’.

Isn’t that amazing? 

So, my friends, this month – let’s do it differently.  We can change the world, by changing ourselves.

One discarded mask at a time.

2 Responses

  1. TanyaC says:

    Hi Bryn, Great words and message. It is true that I often don't elaborate as I am "assuming" the other person may not really be that interested in the "major" milestone I am wanting to express which is insignificant in comparison to what their children may be achieving. I am then often awed at how much my "assumption" is wrong when I do tell someone and they avidly listen and even ask a further question.

  2. Carmen says:

    So true, I was just thinking of someone who asks me how my son is doing and always asks about him only. Thank you for sharing this!

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